In Eco Category, Aura7 Activewear Is Focused on Sustainability, Local Manufacturing
Approaching her new eco-activewear line Aura7 Activewear in the same manner as she lives her life, Franciska Bray-Mezey believes that performing good works will yield positive results. As an Orange County, Calif., yoga instructor and lifelong enthusiast of the discipline who has served the local community for 10 years, she began offering complimentary classes online to help her clients cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. After launching Aura7 Activewear in Orange County, Calif., in August, Bray-Mezey remains optimistic for the brand.
“It’s very important when a brand has a story and has a heart behind it,” Bray-Mezey said. “Many of my yoga clients were so amazingly grateful that it kept me going and gave me the positivity, the hope and the power to move forward. It came back to me. When I launched, it was all those people who showed up, made their purchases and supported me when I needed support.”
While her original intention was to rely on a more-traditional sales strategy comprising wholesale partnerships for Aura7 Activewear’s pieces, which are sized XS–L and retail up to $84 for tops and up to $112 for leggings, Bray-Mezey’s plans were disrupted by the pandemic. She had envisioned selling the pieces through yoga studios but instead moved forward with an e-commerce platform at aura7activewear.com.
“One of my main marketing plans was to bring it into the local studios, but that didn’t happen with the shutdowns and studios closing,” Bray-Mezey explained. “It was a big question for everyone when the pandemic hit. Should I move forward or should I put it on hold? I went for it. This is my baby, this is my dream, and nothing can stop me now. I think it was a great decision. It’s been growing nicely. For the online market, it’s a good place right now.”
As an environmentally conscientious person, Bray-Mezey began thinking about launching an activewear brand a year prior to Aura7 Activewear’s launch, but she wanted the line to reflect her values. Her formula comprises stylish details, such as tops that feature a front crisscross construction and leggings with a back tie that sits atop ruching, enhanced by bright pink and blue, sleek black and gray, and vibrant tropical and leopard prints that contribute to a positive outlook.
A large component of Bray-Mezey’s sustainable approach is dependent on her manufacturing, which takes place in north Orange County, Calif., and Huntington Beach, Calif., allowing her to bypass extensive freight and shipping costs. By establishing connections with the people who make her clothing, Bray-Mezey is able to ensure that they are part of the Aura7 Activewear brand as invested creators who play an important role.
“It’s really important for me to do it in the U.S. I know the factory, and I know every single person in the process. It was important to me to not just send it out somewhere. It has a whole story from the beginning to the end,” Bray-Mezey said. “It is important that everyone who is involved with the creation of Aura7 Activewear is treated fairly and getting the amount of money they deserve for all the hard work.”
Relying only on a sustainable-textile supply chain, Aura7 Activewear is made from Italian fabric created from Econyl, the recycled-nylon fiber that is manufactured from discarded fishing nets. Other pieces are made from Amni Soul Eco, a nylon sourced from Brazil that degrades in three to five years, vastly shortening the timeline for apparel to break down. From using supplies such as thank-you notes created using 100 percent recycled seed paper to 100 percent recycled flap-and-seal shipping bags and compostable mailer bags, the brand relies on sustainable packaging as a finishing sustainable touch.
To support the manufacturing of its Econyl-based fabric, Aura7 Activewear donates a portion of sales to support Healthy Seas, an organization that hosts cleanups with volunteer divers who collect the ghost nets that are discarded in the ocean by the fishing industry but could be transformed into a resource for the apparel community. With every Aura7 Activewear purchase made, the company also works with One Tree Planted to plant a tree, thereby combating deforestation.
“Sustainability was always a big factor for me. When I started to source my fabric and my shipping materials, a lot of times I ran into pushback. ‘Why are you doing that?’ ‘It’s so much more expensive and nobody cares about it.’ For me, it was because I care about it,” she explained. “I don’t want to do just another nonsustainable activewear line.”
Noting that there are many segments of the wellness industry that cater to healthier lifestyles, which promote the well-being of people and the planet, Bray-Mezey feels that she is providing a missing puzzle piece, as fashion—particularly the activewear segment—has historically been a tough business to clean up. In the yoga and active-apparel world, she is confident that effective change is possible.
“We can shift our focus and do things in a more sustainable way. It can be fashion. It can be the food industry. It can be anything surrounding our life,” Bray Mezey said. “It’s about looking for those changes you can make in your life and that are going to create a huge change in the world.”
Photos by Andrea Domjan Photography